Home affairs committee insists that Cwele investigates contract with EOH

2019-03-05 21:26
Siyabonga Cwele (File, Netwerk24)

Siyabonga Cwele (File, Netwerk24)

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The Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs asked Home Affairs Minister Siyabonga Cwele to investigate a contract between the department and technology company EOH.

EOH had ties with Forensic Data Analysts (FDA), which switched off police systems last year, saying it had not been paid for nearly five months. US tech giant Microsoft has also recently cancelled its contract with EOH after an anonymous whistleblower filed a complaint with investment watchdog the US Securities and Exchange Commission about alleged malfeasance with a defence software deal for the South African Department of Defence. 

The committee heard on Tuesday that there were 15 companies that initially submitted bids. Three companies, including EOH, made the shortlist, but the two other companies did not comply with the bid requirements. 

The contract is for the automated biometric identification system (ABIS), which was launched last year and will eventually replace the home affairs national identity system.

MPs on the committee, from across the political spectrum, called on an investigation into the contract. 

"This contract must be reviewed and cancelled," said ANC MP Maesela Kekana. 

"You can see home affairs is a milking cow," said ANC MP Deborah Raphuti. 

"People become multi-millionaires. Let's investigate."

ANC MP Donald Gumede referred to FDA's Keith Keating.

"Is he involved? Are we dealing with a person who has threatened to withhold information from the state?" he asked. 

Department 'satisfied' with contract

State Information Technology Agency (SITA) CEO Setumo Mohapi said EOH bought FDA, but after the allegations of FDA's alleged corrupt dealings with the police emerged at a meeting of Parliament's Standing Committee on Public Accounts, EOH sold FDA back to its original owners. 

Mohapi said he did not think that FDA had a part in ABIS.

He also said SITA was still embroiled in a court case with FDA.

Committee chairperson Patrick Chauke said: "It's not that we hate a certain company, members raise things when they see a problem.

"Let's just be fair to our country, because we love our country. We can't compromise our country."

DA MP Haniff Hoosen asked Mohapi and acting director general of the Department of Home Affairs Thulani Mavuso to answer yes or no to whether they believed the contract was above board.

Mohapi didn't answer him directly. Mavuso said he was "satisfied" with the contract, but would welcome an investigation.

Cwele said EOH was also involved in a tender that was initially worth half a billion, then R3bn and eventually R9bn.

Mohapi was quick to point out that that contract was cancelled.

Chauke said while the committee didn't want to cause chaos at the department on the eve of elections, it was "not going to be soft on this".  

He said by next week Cwele must have some terms of reference for an investigation. He suggested that they should also look at the Independent Police Investigative Directorate's report on FDA and what national police commissioner Khehla Sitole had to say about the matter.

Read more on:    saps  |  siyabonga cwele

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